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Eric Bennett

Sani Abacha attended primary and secondary school in his home state of Kano and then joined the army in 1962. As a soldier he attended the Nigerian Military Training College in Kaduna State (1962–1963) and then went to England for further military schooling. Abacha achieved steady promotions as a soldier and by the mid-1980s had entered Nigeria's military elite. In 1983 he was among those who overthrew Shehu Shagari, leader of the Second Republic, in a coup that led to the military rule of Muhammadu Buhari. In 1985 Abacha participated in a second coup, which replaced Buhari with General Ibrahim Babangida, who appointed Abacha minister of defense in 1990. As head of state, Babangida announced that free elections would be held in the early 1990s. In 1993 however after Babangida nullified the results of these belated free elections Abacha staged a third coup and ...

Article

Allen J. Fromherz

builder of the Almohad Empire and great Moroccan military leader and able administrator, led the Almohad movement for tawhid, absolute monotheistic unity, after the death of the Mahdi Ibn Tumart, the Almohad founder, in c. 1130. His full name was ʿAbd al-Muʾmin ibn ʿAli ibn ʿAlwi bin Yaʿla al-Kumi Abu Muhammad.

After defeating the Almoravid Empire at Marrakech, he established the administrative and military foundations of the Almohad state while securing a caliphal succession for his descendants, the Muʾminid dynasty. In a matter of decades ʿAbd al-Muʾmin and his followers transformed the Almohads from a vigorous but vulnerable ideological movement in the small Atlas Mountain town of Tinmal to one of the largest and most successful Islamic empires in North African and Andalusian history.

Effectively an outsider ʿAbd al Muʾmin s ancestry was different from the noble Masmuda ethnic groups that made up the core of the Almohad ...

Article

Marian Aguiar

Considered a hero of anticolonial resistance by many contemporary Algerians, Abd al-Qadir created an Arab-Berber alliance to oppose French expansion in North Africa in the 1830s and 1840s. He also organized an Islamic state that, at one point, controlled the western two-thirds of the inhabited land in Algeria. Abd al-Qadir owed his ability to unite Arabs and Berbers, who had been enemies for centuries, in part to the legacy of his father, head of the Hashim tribe in Mousakar (Mascara) and leader of a Sufi Muslim brotherhood. In 1826Abd al-Qadir and his father made a pilgrimage, or hajj, to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of the prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam. When he returned in 1828, Abd al-Qadir s own reputation as an Islamic religious and cultural leader grew and both Arabs and Berbers looked to him to lead the resistance against the French who ...

Article

A. K. Bennison

Moroccan ruler, was one of the sons of Muhammad al-Shaykh of the Saʿdi or Saadian dynasty, which ruled a region roughly coterminous with modern Morocco from 1525 until c. 1610. He was born Abu Marwan Abd al-Malik to a woman called Sahaba al-Rahmaniyya who accompanied her son on his later travels through the Mediterranean. The Saʿdi dynasty came to power at an important historical juncture. During the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, Portugal had constructed numerous trading enclaves (feitorias along Morocco s Atlantic seaboard and imposed its control on much of the Gharb plain In the last decades of the fifteenth century Spain had finally conquered Muslim Granada and established a series of footholds on the Mediterranean coast of Africa At the same time both countries had established vast overseas empires At the other end of the Mediterranean the Ottomans acted as a Muslim counterbalance conquering the ...

Article

Zahia Smail Salhi

Algerian emir and anticolonialist leader, was born on 6 September 1808 near Mascara in the west of Algeria. His full name was ʿAbd al-Qadir bin Muhieddine; he is known in the Arab east as ʿAbdel-Kader al-Jazaʾiri and in Algeria as al-Amir ʿAbd El-Kader.

His father, Muhieddine al-Hassani, was a Sufi shaykh who followed the Qadiriyya religious order and claimed to be a Hasani (sharif ) descendent of the Prophet with family ties with the Idrisi dynasty of Morocco. As a young boy, ʿAbdel-Kader trained in horsemanship, and from this he developed his love for horses, about which he wrote some beautiful poetry. He was also trained in religious sciences; he memorized the Qurʾan and read in theology and philology. He was also known as a poet who recited classical poetry and wrote his own poetry, mostly centering on war and chivalry.

In 1825 ʿAbdel Kader set out with ...

Article

Stephen Cory

sixth sultan of the Moroccan Marinid dynasty, seized power in 1286 after his father, Abu Yusuf Yaʿqub, had consolidated Marinid authority throughout Morocco. With this seemingly secure base, ʿAbu Yaʿqub spent most of his reign engaging in external battles. The Moroccan sultan was involved in the numerous struggles of southern Spain for several years, seeking to strengthen the Marinid position in that key area. In the final twelve years of his reign, ʿAbu Yaʿqub sought to expand Marinid rule throughout the Maghreb by bringing down the neighboring Zayyanid dynasty, which had often been a thorn in the side of earlier Marinid sultans. Although he initially made some progress on these two fronts, in neither case was ʿAbu Yaʿqub fully able to achieve his aims.

Like his father before him ʿAbu Yaʿqub spent his first two years as sultan putting down revolts within Morocco His main opponents were family members who ...

Article

Ness Creighton

Mamluk bey of Upper Egypt and head of the Hawwara (a Berber people), was the emir and the de facto ruler of Upper Egypt during the mid-eighteenth century who was part of the opposition to ʿAli Bey’s rule of Egypt. Abu Yusuf and the tribe belonged to Nisf Haram, which would become closely associated with the Qasimmi Mamluks. His full name was Humam ibn Yusuf ibn Ahmad al-Hawwari, also sometimes given as Humam Abu Yusuf.

Like previous Hawwara leaders, the power base of Abu Yusuf was in Farshut, in the province of Qena. From here, their influence extended westward, encompassing large sections of the Saʾid. Initially, Hawwara claims under Abu Yusuf came into conflict with both the Bardisi and the Akhmim claims. Humam was successful in eventually eliminating both of these rivals.

Abu Yusuf oversaw a brief period of comparative prosperity and tranquility in the history of Upper Egypt during ...

Article

fifth sultan of the Moroccan Marinid dynasty, took over from his brother, Abu Yahya, in October 1258 Abu Yahya brought the Marinids to the brink of controlling all of Morocco and eliminating the Almohad caliphate which had ruled over much of North Africa for the previous 150 years During the twenty eight years of his reign Abu Yusuf Yaʿqub finished the job begun by his predecessor and established Marinid predominance throughout Morocco However he was unable to reestablish Moroccan authority either in the central and eastern Maghreb or over Islamic Spain as the Almohads had done Like his brother Abu Yusuf accepted the nominal sovereignty of the Hafsids of Tunis in order to establish religious legitimacy for ruling Morocco The Hafsids claimed to be the true successors of the Almohads and to have remained faithful to the original doctrines of Almohad founder Ibn Tumart Since the Hafsids were far ...

Article

Stephen Cory

chief of the West African Lamtuna, one of the Sanhaja Berber peoples, and leader of the Almoravid movement that eventually conquered Morocco, western Algeria, and Islamic Spain in the north and Mauritania and portions of Mali in the south. Although he became leader of the Almoravids following the death of the movement’s founder, ʿAbdallah ibn Yasin, in 1059, his notoriety was surpassed by that of his cousin, Yusuf ibn Tashfin. Yusuf would lead the Almoravids to multiple conquests in the north, while Abu Bakr remained with his Sanhaja warriors in the south, where he continued to lead jihad against the infidels of sub-Saharan West Africa. His accomplishments included defeating the kingdom of Ghana, but he was never able to establish full Almoravid control in the region. Abu Bakr ibn ʿUmar was killed in battle in 1087, after which Almoravid authority in the south rapidly disintegrated.

The Almoravid movement ...

Article

Stephen Cory

eleventh sultan of the Moroccan Marinid dynasty, claimed the sultanate by rebelling against his father, Abu al-Hasan ʿAli, in 1348 while the latter was fighting a rebellion in Tunisia. Reassembling his forces in Algiers, Abu al-Hasan faced off against a larger army led by Abu ʿInan in 1349. Following a crushing defeat, Abu al-Hasan retreated to the desert town of Sijilmasa, where he was welcomed by the tribal leader Ouenzemmar. But his ally soon abandoned him when Abu ʿInan’s troops descended upon Sijilmasa, so Abu al-Hasan fled to Marrakech. There, he recruited supporters from among Masmouda Berbers and local Arabs. In May 1350 the army of Abu al Hasan battled the forces of Abu ʿInan near the Umm al Rabia River where Abu ʿInan was again victorious After being rescued by one of his soldiers Abu al Hasan was provided refuge among the Hintata peoples of the High ...

Article

fourth sultan of the Moroccan Marinid dynasty, took over leadership in the aftermath of a significant military defeat in 1244 when his predecessor Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Haqq was killed. Ibn Khaldun states that Abu Yahya divided Morocco between the Marinid clans, assigning each a specific portion of land in perpetuity, even before he conquered the country. With this motivation, the leading families of the Marinid alliance increased the number of troops that they contributed to the army, thus augmenting their forces for the struggle against the Almohads, the de jure rulers over Morocco.

The Almohads had allied with the Banu Asker a dissident Marinid clan along with Yaghmurasan chief of the Banu ʿAbd al Wad rulers of Tlemcen But at a critical moment these forces switched sides and joined the Marinid army against the Almohads who were then defeated in battle The Banu Asker then submitted to Abu Yahya while ...

Article

Bonnie A. Lucero

who later became a political activist in the early Cuban Republic, was born in 1876 in Cienfuegos. He joined the Cuban War of Independence (1895–1898) just months after the first uprisings broke out in Cienfuegos on 4 April 1895. He initially served in Cienfuegos and Las Villas under Lieutenant Colonel Alfredo Rego. He later enlisted in the invasion force led by Máximo Gómez (Cuba’s military leader during the war) and Antonio Maceo when it passed from Oriente through Villa Clara in December 1895, and he participated in the famous battle of Mal Tiempo. Acea served under the command of Juan Eligio Ducasse, and he was wounded in a battle in early 1896 outside Ceiba de Agua After operating in the vicinity of Alquizar for several months Acea organized his own infantry regiment called the Tiradores de Maceo in the Fifth Corps of the Cuban army ...

Article

Rob Garrison

Isidro Acea was greatly respected for his bravery and unceremonious nature. Described as a very outspoken man and a charismatic leader, his personal qualities enabled him to gain a position as colonel in the Liberation Army under General Máximo Gómez and Antonio Maceo y Grajales.

Acea lived during a period of Cuban history when the society was highly politicized around the issue of race, particularly after the War of Independence (1895–1898 Afro Cubans were frustrated by the Cuban administration United States military occupation and Spanish migration all of which exacerbated social inequity for people of African descent in the nation Acea like some other Afro Cuban veterans attempted to connect with the community and gain support by entering the political arena on a pro black platform in the early 1900s The platform lacked patronage particularly because of U S imposed restrictions on male suffrage that required literacy ...

Article

Jasper Ayelazuno

army officer and military head of state of Ghana, was born in Trabuom in the present-day Ashanti Region of southern Ghana and then part of Britain’s Gold Coast colony. He was the son of James Kwadwo Kutu Acheampong and Akua Manu. Raised as a Roman Catholic, he attended Trabuom Elementary School and St. Peter’s Catholic School in Kumasi, before receiving his secondary education at the Central College of Commerce at Swedru in the Central Region of Ghana. Having obtained his West Africa Secondary School General Certificate of Education at the ordinary level (popularly known as GCE O level) and a diploma in commerce, he worked in various places and positions. From 1945 to 1951, he was a stenographer/secretary at the Timber Sawmill in Kumasi, a teacher at Kumasi Commercial College, and the vice principal at Agona-Swedru College of Commerce.

Acheampong subsequently enlisted as a private soldier in the British ...

Article

Duane W. Roller

ruler of a portion of Numidia 118 112 bce was the son of King Micipsa of Numidia When his father died in 118 BCE he was named joint heir with his brother Hiempsal I and cousin Jugurtha who had served under Roman command in Spain with the latter who was older as primary heir The Romans already involved in the affairs of Numidia the territory south and west of Carthage saw this arrangement as the potential disaster that it was and at first adopted a hands off policy Animosity between the three heirs which may have predated Micipsa s death erupted almost immediately Hiempsal was soon eliminated by Jugurtha and Adherbal promptly fled to Rome He and Jugurtha entered into a competition as to who could spread money more lavishly around the city and both were invited to address the Senate Adherbal emphasized his character and his cousin s deficiencies ...

Article

Kathleen Sheldon

Asante ruler in present-day Ghana, was an asantehemaa (queen mother) who advised the Asante royal council to avoid war with the British in the late nineteenth century; she was particularly active from about 1834 to 1884. She was born into Asante aristocracy as the daughter of Asantehene (King) Owusu Afriyie and Asantehemaa Afua Sapon and became the ninth asantehemaa in that dynasty. She married Kofi Nti, a member of the ruling asantehene’s council. Between about 1835 and 1850 they had five children, including two who became asantehenes and one who was later asantehemaa. When Kofi Nti died, most likely in the late 1860s, she married Boakye Tenten, also a council member; but they had no further children. Her descendants continued to hold key positions in the twentieth century, when her great-great-grandson, Barima Kwaku Adusi, was elected to the Asante throne, known as the Golden Stool.

Initially ...

Article

David P. Johnson

As a leader of the largest rebel force in Eritrea's independence struggle, Isaias Afwerki strove to unify peoples of diverse cultures and religious beliefs. Since assuming office, he has been widely praised for his pragmatism and modesty and for maintaining a regime free of corruption. Like Rwanda's Paul Kagame, Uganda's Yoweri Museveni, and Ethiopia's Meles Zenawi, Afwerki belongs to what has been called Africa's “new generation” of leaders, all of whom are known for their military backgrounds and for their tactical rather than ideological approach to leadership.

Isaias Afwerki was born in Asmara, Eritrea, at a time when the fate of the former Italian colony was in limbo. By the time he graduated from the elite Prince Makonnen Secondary School in Asmara in 1965, Ethiopia had annexed Eritrea, and Eritrean opponents to the despotic rule of Emperor Haile Selassie were preparing for all out warfare ...

Article

Agaja  

Jeremy Rich

king of Dahomey, was born sometime in the later decades of the seventeenth century. According to oral traditions collected in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Agaja succeeded his brother Akaba to the throne in large part because of his support from influential royal women. Na Geze, a royal princess married to the ruler of the city-state of Ouidah located directly south of Dahomey, supported Agaja’s claims to power. Likewise, his eldest sister and Akaba’s twin Na Hangbe also intervened on the behalf of Akaba’s son Agbo Sassa. According to European slave traders’ accounts and oral narratives, Agaja battled Agbo Sassa for the throne around 1718. Apparently, Hangbe denounced Agaja as a usurper, to no avail; and her son was forced to flee to the north.

Once Agaja had seized the throne he launched a series of reforms within the kingdom and led numerous campaigns against Dahomey s neighbors One ...

Article

Haggai Erlich

North African political and military leader, was probably born in 1506 in the area between Harar and the Ogaden. Ahmad ibn Ibrahim married the daughter of Imam Mahfuz, the governor of Zeyla, who collaborated with Islamic scholars from Arabia against his master, the Sultan of Adal. Ahmad bin Ibrahim was similarly inspired by the renewed Islamic spirit and when he gained control of Harar in 1525, he refrained from adopting a political title and used only the religious designation of imam. His followers and his chronicler later called him Sahib al-fath (the lord of the conquest) or al-Ghazi (the holy warrior), for it was his conquest of Ethiopia, between 1529 and 1543, that made him so significant. In Ethiopian history, he is known as Ahmad Gragn, the left-handed.

The first half of the sixteenth century was marked by the weakening of the Solomonian dynasty s rule in Ethiopia ...

Article

Pierre Bonte

emir of Mauritania, was the oldest son and successor to the emir SidʾAhmed, who was himself the son of ʿUthman, founder in the middle of the eighteenth century of the emirate of the Mauritanian Adrar (Adrar tmar, “Adrar of the dates”), which SidʾAhmed institutionalized by stabilizing the title within the Ahl ʿUthman and by attaching to it emirate wealth, in particular goods paid as tribute from the znaga. Ahmed Ould Aida brought to the emirate a new renown in the Saharan west.

His surname, Ould Aida, was given to him by the second wife of his father, of noble brakna origin, either in reference to his mother, who was of the Liʿwaysyat, a hassan group of warrior gentry or in reference to his nurse and out of derision He assumed it in defiance and thus the name is found among his descendants the Ahl Ahmed Ould ...